K. Anis Ahmed was born in Bangladesh, six months before the war that led to his country’s liberation in 1971. Separated from his parents by accidents of war, Ahmed was raised by his grandparents, and re-united with his family only when they returned from a Pakistani POW camp. Ahmed’s father, an officer in the Bangladesh Army, helped found the new nation’s military academy, but quit the service in 1979 to found a business, and ten years later publications – Khoborer Kagoj and Ajker Kagoj – that were at the forefront of the country’s reclamation of democratic and secular principles in the early 90s.
Ahmed grew up steeped in the revolutionary ethos both of his country and his family, and went to study in America after finishing high school in Dhaka. Despite majoring in Economics, a ‘respectable’ subject for the son of a South Asian business family, Ahmed’s heart lay in the arts and literature. He studied with Edmund White at Brown, and also with William Gass and the late Stanley Elkin at Wash U. in St Louis. His first published story, “Forty Steps”, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and translated into his native Bengali by a legend of Bangla letters, Manobendra Bandopadhyay.
On returning home with a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, Ahmed served as the lead director in founding the country’s first Liberal Arts university, a non-profit funded by his family. Ahmed also helped turn the family’s organic tea garden – the only one in the country – into the first true premium international tea brand from Bangladesh. More recently he has published the country’s first international literary journal, Bengal Lights, and co-founded a new national daily, Dhaka Tribune.
Ahmed’s first book, Good Night, Mr. Kissinger, was featured at the Hay Festival Dhaka 2012. His second book and first novel, The World in My Hands, was published by Vintage (Random House India) in 2013. He lives in Dhaka with his wife and son.